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Swift to have been guided in this affair by mere caprice and humour, he cannot but be seen in a most ungracious light, and considered as a man utterly devoid of humanity : for it is generally agreed, that Stella's immature death was occasioned by the peculiarity of his conduct towards her. It appears by feveral litele incidents, that she regretted and disapproved this conduct, and that she fometimes reproached him with unkindness; for to such regret and reproach he certainly alludes, in the following verse on her birth-day, in 1726.
66 O, then, whatever heav'n intends, “ Take pity on your pitying friends : “ Nor let your ills affect your mind, 166 To fancy they can be unkind; “ Me, surely, me you ought to spare,
“ Who gladly would your sufferings thare." It is said the Dean did at length earnestly defire, that the might be publicly owned as his wife; but as her health was then declining, she said it was too late, and insisted, that they should continue to live as they had lived before. To this the Dean in his turn con, fented, and suffered her to dispose entirely of her own fortune, by her own name, to, a public charity, when she died.
from the death of Stella his life became much retired, and the austerity of his temper increased : he could not enjoy his public
days; these entertainments were therefore discontinued, and he sometimes avoided the company of his most intimate friends : but in time he grew more desirous of company. In 1732, he complains, in a letter to Mr. Gay, that “ he had a large house, and should " hardly find one visitor, if he was not able " to hire him with a bottle of wine :” and, in another to Mr. Pope, that “ he was in dan
ger of dying poor and friendless, even his “ female friends having forsaken him ; “ which;” as he says, “ vexed him most.” These complaints were afterwards repeated in a strain of yet greater sensibility and self-pity: “ All my friends have forsaken me:"
Vertiginofus, inops, surdus, male gratus
As he lived much in folitude, he frequent. ly amused himself with writing, and it is very remarkable, that although his mind was greatly depressed, and his principal enjoyment at an end when Mrs. Johnson died, yet there is an air of levity and triling in some of the pieces he wrote afterwards, that is not to be found in any other : such in particular are his Directions to servants, and several of his letters to his friend Dr. Sheridan. In 1733, when the attempt was made to repeal VOL. I. d
the test act in Ireland, the diffenters often affected to call themselves Brother-proteftants, and Fellow-chriftians, with the members of the established church. Upon this occasion the Dean wrote a short copy of verses *, which fo provoked one Betrefworth, a lawyer and member of the Irish parliament, that he twore, in the hearing of many persons, to revenge himself either by murdering or maiming the author; and, for this purpose, he engaged his footman, with two ruffians, to secure the Dean wherever he could be found. This being known, thirty of the robility and gentry, within ihe liberty of St. Patrick's, waited upon the Dean in form, and presented a paper subscribed with their names, in which they solemnly engaged, in behalf of themselves and the rest of the li. berty, to defend his person and fortune, as the friend and benefactor of his country, When this paper was delivered, Swift was in bed, deaf and giddy, yet made a shift to dictate a proper answer t. These fits of deafness
* Thus at the bar that blockhead Bettesworth,
Though half a crown o’erpays his sweat's worth,
+ The Dean's answer was as follows.
Genlemen, • I receive, with great thankfulness, these many kind expressions of your concern for my safety, as
and yiddiness, which were the effects of his furfeit, before he was twenty years old, became more frequent and violent in proportion as he grew into years : and in 1736, while he was writing a satire on the Irish parliament, which he called The Legion Club, he was feized with one of these fit:, the effect of which was fo dreadful, that he left the poem unfinished, and never afterwards attempted a composition either in prose or verle that required a course of thinking, or perhaps more than one 'fitcing to finish.
• well as your declared resolution to defend me (as
far as the laws of God and man will allow) againit .. all murderers, and ruflians, who thall attempt to
enter into the liberty with any bloody and wicked
designs upon my life, my limbs, my house, or my • goods. Gentlemen, my life is in the hands of God,
and, whether it may be cut off by treachery, or open violence, or by the common way of other men, as long as it continues, I shall ever bear a grateful memory for this favour you have thewn, beyond my expectation, and almost exceeding my wishes. The • inhabitants of the liberty, as well as thole of the "neighbourhood, have lived with me in great amity
for near twenty years; which I am confident will neover diminish during my life. I am chiefly forry, • that, 'by two cruel disorders of deafness and giddi
nefs, which have pursued me for four months, I am i not in a condition either to hear or to receive you, ! much less to return you my most sincere acknowledge. «ments, which in justice and gratitude I ought to do.
May God bless you and your families in this world; • and make you for ever happy in the next.
From this tine his memory was perceived gradually to decline, and his passions to pervert his understanding; and in 1741, he was so very bad, as to be utterly incapable of conversation. Strangers were not permitted to approach him, and his friends found it necessary to have gaardians appointed of his person and estate. Early in 1741, his reafon was subverted, and his rage became abfolute madness. In October his left eye fwelled to the size of an egg, and several large boils broke out on his arms and body; the extreme pain of which kept him awake near a month, and, during one week, it was with difficulty that five persons restrained him by mere force from pulling out his own eyes. Upon the subsiding of these tumours, he knew those about him; and appeared fo far to haye recovered his understanding and temper, that there were hopes he might once more enjoy society. These hopes, however, were but of short duration : for, a few days afterwards, he funk into a state of total insensibility, sept much, and could not, without great, difficulty, be prevailed on to walk cross the room. This was the effect of an. other bodily disease, his brain being loaded with water. Mr. Stevens, an ingenious clergyman of Dublin, pronounced this to be the case during his illness; and upon opening his body, it appeared that he was not mistaken. · After the Dean had continued silent